Student hosts fashion show for Black Lives Matter

Tiye Gardner, of Louisville, Ky., Is selling tickets for her Black Lives Matter fashion show in DSU on Mon. April 15, 2019. Gardner is coordinating and designing her fifth fashion show this Wednesday on April 17, 2019 at 5 p.m. “It’s something that I am really passionate about,” Tiye said. “I want to show my appreciation for black people, black culture and black art.”

Kelley Holland

Tiye Gardner has always been interested in fashion. When she was a child, she would often draw images of clothing items she wished were sold in stores.

Now, it is no surprise she is hosting her own fashion show at WKU.

Gardner held her first fashion show when she was in high school and dedicated it to bullying awareness. She only designed her own outfit, but it received many positive responses.

This prompted her to start designing more outfits for her next show in 2015, which was her first Black Lives Matter fashion show. She got the idea after Trayvon Martin was killed, so she knew she wanted to focus on a social justice issue that mattered to her.

This week, Gardner will be hosting another Black Lives Matter fashion show in DSU as part of her honors thesis. The focus is racial hierarchies in Latin America, a topic she came up with after studying abroad in Argentina, Mexico and Costa Rica.

“I started noticing this pattern, and it was just like each place I went, I was treated differently by locals,” Gardner said. “Now that I’m a citizenship and social justice major, I’m starting to be able to put a term to those experiences.”

The pieces featured in the show will be inspired by her experiences in those countries.

In addition to the fashion show, there will be an event where student artists will display and sell their work while networking with attendees called “Black Art Expo.”

“What I really like to do is just allow people the ability to share their art at my shows,” Gardner said. “I like to make community events. You’ve gotta support your peers.”

A portion of the admission fees will go toward Let’s Play Ball Puerto Rico, an organization Gardner is involved with. The organization helps little league baseball and softball teams in Puerto Rico that are in need of assistance.

Lee Wright, another WKU student, will be modeling designs and walking in the show.

“I feel good about walking in the show,” Wright said in an email. “I think it’s important to show that there are white women dedicated to the cause of Black Lives Matter.”

Wright said she feels the event is important because it will raise awareness to issues such as colorism and the global aspect of racial domination.

During the show, Gardner will speak about the designs she made and about her experiences abroad.

“I’m not doing it to only speak about my negative experiences abroad, but it’s also about the amazing experiences and connections and contacts I have,” Gardner said.

Gardner said she hopes attendees will be inspired to study abroad as well as to chase their own dreams.

Leah Ashwill, director of the Center for Citizenship and Social Justice, is serving as the first reader for Gardner’s capstone project. She believes the fashion show will increase awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement in an inspiring and creative way.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about what BLM is and what it is not,” Ashwill said in an email. “It is my hope that many students take the opportunity to come out and learn more about BLM through this exceptionally unique medium for activism.” Ashwill said that as a supporter of and mentor to young activists, she has never seen anything quite like Gardner’s style of activism.

After Gardner graduates, she said she hopes to apply what she has learned at WKU to real life — working within the community while still keeping fashion as a hobby.

“I have a huge appreciation for art, and I think fashion is art,” Gardner said.

The Black Lives Matter fashion show will be held in DSU room 3005 on April 17 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 in advance and $12 at the door.

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected].